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 Wedding Guidelines

The faith community of Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church (ICJC) is delighted that you are considering our beautiful historic church for your celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Our aim is to assist you in preparing a prayerful and joyful celebration. This packet contains important guidelines and policies governing this blessed occasion. Please read them carefully and address all questions or requests for clarification to our Wedding Coordinator, Mrs. Julie Vanderbrook ( or 504.442.2622).

1.    Reserving the Church: We know you are excited about booking your wedding date at    Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church.  To check the availability of a certain date, please go to our "Parish Calendar" on our website.  If the date you would prefer appears to be available, call our wedding coordinator, Julie Vanderbrook at 504-442-2622.  Weddings are scheduled on Friday nights at 7:00 p.m., Saturday at any time, (latest time is 2:00 p.m.) and Saturday nights at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.  Rehearsals are scheduled on Thursday and Friday evenings prior to the wedding day.

2.    Preparation:  Each couple is responsible for completing with the priest or deacon of their choice all marriage preparation in accordance with the requirements of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. All paperwork with supporting documentation must be submitted to ICJC no later than one month prior to your celebration. For more complete directions, please see Appendix A

3.    Decorations: ICJC is an active parish church, and the sanctuary is decorated according to liturgical seasons and feasts. These decorations are part of any liturgical celebration and will normally remain in place for your wedding. For complete guidelines concerning floral and other decorations, please see Appendix B.

4.    Wedding Parties: Space limitations as well as liturgical decorum limit your wedding party to no more than 18 persons total, including bride and groom. Any children participating in your wedding party should be at least 3 years of age. All bridal attire must be modest and appropriate to the sacredness of a wedding liturgy.

5.    Music: The sacred nature of your wedding liturgy requires the use of approved ministers of music and the careful selection of appropriate music. Our Wedding Music Coordinator will assist you with music selection.  We urge you to be in contact with him before planning any aspect of your liturgy.  Please see Appendix C.

6.    Photography/Videography: The sacred nature of the wedding liturgy also demands discreet and professional behavior on the part of recording professionals. Please see Appendix D for details.

7.    Decorum: Proper respect and decorum are required at all times on parish premises. At no time is eating, drinking, or smoking allowed in or around the church or rectory (parish office).  Alcohol and individuals under the influence are not allowed on our property. Failure to abide by these guidelines will result in the immediate dismissal of offending wedding party members.  Failure to leave upon request will delay or cancel the wedding.

8.    Punctuality: Out of respect for parish staff and for other scheduled events, wedding parties must be prompt for both the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony. Weddings beginning more than 20 minutes late will be restricted to a Liturgy of the Word and Exchange of Vows.  Groomsmen are due at the church 45 minutes before the ceremony, and the bride and bridesmaids are due at the church 15 minutes prior to the ceremony.

9.    Maintenance Disclaimer: Our church is an historic building. There may be times when unforeseen circumstances force us to attend to maintenance and other repairs, which in extreme cases may involve the possibility of scaffolding or other materials which cannot be removed.

10.    Offering: In order to cover the costs associated with the use of our church, we request an offering of $2700 from couples celebrating their weddings at ICJC.  This offering covers the services of five individuals: the Wedding Coordinator, the Wedding Music Coordinator, Organist, Cantor, and Sacristan, as well as other building costs and utilities.

Couples who have been registered parishioners of ICJC for at least one year prior to their wedding may be eligible for a discounted rate, provided that they have demonstrated an identifiable pattern of sharing their time, talent, or treasure with the parish. Final determination of eligibility is at the discretion of the Pastor.

Alumni of Jesuit High School (New Orleans) are eligible for a $200 discount, provided that they have not already qualified for the parishioner discount. 

For all couples, a non-refundable $1350 deposit is required to reserve your wedding date. The balance is due no less than 30 days prior to the celebration.  Approximately two months before your wedding date, you will receive a letter confirming the dates and times of your wedding and rehearsal and providing instructions as to how the balance of your wedding payment is to be made.

11.    Refunds:  If it is deemed necessary for Jesuit Church to cancel a wedding due to circumstances beyond its control (natural disaster, hurricane, unforeseeable major church repair, etc.), we will refund all payments made to the church.  No other expenses incurred will be reimbursed.

12.    Next Steps: After carefully reading these Wedding Guidelines, please contact our Wedding Coordinator, Julie Vanderbrook ( or 504-422-2622) with any questions.  Julie will be happy to answer your questions and guide you through your next steps, including how you can reserve a specific date and time for your wedding at the historic Jesuit Church.  Once you have spoken to Julie, you are welcome to print out and complete the Wedding Contract (see below).  Please note: No date is considered to be reserved until a fully executed contract and required deposit are received.

Appendix A:  The Marriage Preparation Process

The priest or deacon you choose to prepare you for marriage is responsible for guiding you through the process. Below we summarize for you what this will involve for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana.

1.    Archdiocesan policy states that you must begin preparing for your marriage with a priest or deacon no less than eight months prior to your wedding, preferably with the clergyman who will officiate at your wedding.  A donation to your presider is not included in the offering that you make to the church.

2.    With your clergyman you will need to complete a Pre-Nuptial Questionnaire. This will require you to obtain recently issued baptismal certificates (within six months of the wedding date) for both bride and groom.  For a copy of your baptismal certificate (not the original), please contact the church of your baptism. Additionally, certain permissions from the Archdiocese may be required.

3.    Your preparation will also involve the taking of the FOCCUS survey, an instrument used to help couples to identify aspects of their relationship where greater communication is needed.

4.    You will also be asked to participate in an approved Marriage Preparation Program. (See Among the options are a two-day seminar, a weekend retreat, and a marraige preparation program (six evenings) with a mentor couple in their home.  We suggest that you reserve a spot on your preferred date as soon as possible since these seminars tend to fill up quickly. A certificate of participation must be included among your marriage preparation documents.

5.    If neither the bride nor groom is a registered parishioner of ICJC, the person who is Catholic (or both) will have to provide a letter from his or her parish priest granting permission for the wedding to take to take place at our church.

6.    The clergyman officiating at your wedding must be registered in the State of Louisiana as an authorized minister of marriages. If he is not, he must follow the instructions for officiant registration through the state.  If a clergyman needs any assistance with this, he may contact the Office of the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. 

7.    If your clergyman is not on staff at ICJC, he must also request in writing delegation from our pastor to witness your wedding. 

8.    If your clergyman is not currently working in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, he will have to provide a testimonial letter of suitability from his bishop or religious superior. 

9.    If you are being prepared by someone other than a priest on the ICJC staff, your completed paperwork must arrive at our office no less than one month prior to your wedding. If you are being prepared outside the Archdiocese of New Orleans, your paperwork will have to clear not only your home chancery (diocesan office), but also the New Orleans chancery before it will be forwarded to us. We urge you to allow sufficient time for this processing to occur.

10.    It is the responsibility of the couple to obtain from the State of Louisiana a valid civil marriage license, issued no more than 30 days before the ceremony and no less than 72 hours before the ceremony.  The license should be hand delivered to the officiating clergyman at the rehearsal. No wedding can take place without a license.  The license is to be signed by the bride, groom, witnesses, and priest or deacon.  Please do not leave this license with anyone other than the officiant of your wedding,  The clergyman is responsible for mailing the completed license to the Clerk of Court.  Remember: A wedding cannot be performed without a license. 

If you wish to have a Nuptial Mass, it is important to note that the Archdiocese of New Orleans regulations state that a Nuptial Mass may be celebrated only if both the bride and groom are practicing Roman Catholics. Special permission is needed for a Mass to be celebrated at a wedding between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic.

Necessary Paperwork Checklist:

______    Pre-Nuptial Inquiry

______    Recently Issued Baptismal Certificate (within six months of the wedding)

______    FOCCUS Premartial Inquiry

______    Marriage Preparation Seminar Completion Certificate/Letter

______    Permission letters from home parish priest

______    Letter of delegation for non-ICJC priests

______    Testimonial of Suitability for Visiting Priests not of this Archdiocese


Appendix B:  Floral and Decoration Guidelines

Because of the historic significance of Jesuit Church and the religious import of the wedding liturgy, it is important that all church furnishings be respected.  These guidelines will assist you in knowing what is permitted in our church. Couples are responsible for communicating these guidelines to their florists.

1.    Unless prior permission has been given by the Wedding Coordinator to do otherwise, florists may set up no more than one hour before the scheduled ceremony.

2.    Any seasonal decorations placed by Immaculate Conception Church must be left in place.

3.    Floral arrangements can be placed on the high altar (where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved), beside – but not directly on – the Mass altar, and/or at the baptismal font. Flowers (without pedestals) may also be placed on the two counters at the back of the church.  We are most appreciative when flower arrangements are left after the wedding as a gift for our weekend Masses.

4.    All flower arrangements touching marble or linen are to be placed in plastic saucers.

5.    Floral arrangements are to be brought to the church already assembled. The florist is not to use the altar, sanctuary or vestibule to make arrangements.  

6.    Floral arrangements may be attached to the end of pews or to the pulpit, but no staples, wire, clamps or tape may be used to do so. Pews and aisles are not to be blocked or cordoned off in any way.

7.    Unity Candles are not permitted. Other candles or candelabra (with drip-proof globes) are permitted only if pre-approved. Florists must agree to remain on premises for the duration of the wedding so that candelabra can be removed immediately after the wedding. Furthermore, they agree to pay any costs incurred by the church either for professional clean-up of wax spills or for overnight storage of materials not removed within 15 minutes after the wedding.

8.    Rice, confetti, bubbles, seeds, petals, etc. are not allowed inside or outside the church.

9.    Aisle runners are not allowed.

10.    It is the responsibility of the florist and/or wedding party to remove any decorations attached to the pews immediately after the ceremony along with flower boxes and other refuse.



Appendix C:  Wedding Music Guidelines

Every aspect of your wedding celebration has as its primary purpose the engagement of those assembled in active prayer and worship. For this reason, only sacred music is appropriate to the occasion. Furthermore, all sacred music used within a wedding celebration must also be liturgical, that is, it must contribute to the active participation and prayer of the assembly.  As a result, not all sacred music is appropriate to the celebration and not every song is appropriate to every moment. To ensure the best possible liturgical experience, therefore, all selection and placement of music must be approved by our Wedding Music Coordinator, Mr. Vance Woolf (

ICJC requires the participation of the ICJC organist and one of its cantors at all weddings, including those at which a Nuptial Mass is not celebrated. Their services are included in the $2700 offering requested for the church. Minimally, the cantor will sing the responsorial psalm and the Gospel Alleluia.  Of course, if you wish, the cantor will also lead the assembly in other singing, as well as offer meditative song.  During the ceremony, cantors are located in the choir loft, next to the organist.

Subject to the review and approval of the Wedding Music Coordinator, you are free to engage outside soloists for non-congregational singing, as well as additional musicians, to supplement the services of the ICJC cantor and ICJC organist.  (Please do not contract any outside musicians without first consulting with the ICJC Wedding Music Coordinator.)  Added musicians are responsible for providing, as necessary, appropriate music to the ICJC organist.  Also, if the added musicians have not worked before with the ICJC organist and ICJC cantor, it may be necessary for to have a music rehearsal, the cost of which is the responsibility of the wedding couple.

All musicians other than the organist and cantor provided by the church are to be considered independent contractors. Their fees are NOT included in the offering you make to the parish. Although the ICJC Wedding Music Coordinator may be able to assist you with referrals, all arrangements and payments concerning outside musicians will be your responsibility.

In order to encourage participation at their ceremony, couples will often choose to create a worship aid (program) for their celebration. While the Wedding Music Coordinator will be happy to review a draft copy of your program, the design and printing of the program are the responsibility of the couple. 

Appendix D:  Photographic / Videographic Guidelines

Given the sacred nature of the marriage celebration, photographers and videographers must be careful not to disrupt or distract those in attendance. Couples are responsible for communicating these guidelines to their photographer and/or videographer.  Failure to abide by these guidelines will lead to restrictions for future weddings.

1.    Professionals are to follow the directives of the Wedding Coordinator at all times concerning where they may stand or move.

2.    Professionals must not be conspicuous nor obstruct any of the proceedings. At no time should they stand in the aisle or enter the sanctuary.

3.    Flash photography may be used only during the entrance and exit processions.

      4.     No equipment is allowed in the sanctuary. Video cameras may be stationed to the side of the sanctuary provided they remain immobile.

       5.    No photos are allowed in the sanctuary once the prelude music has started. At this time all members of the bridal party must be in their respective places in order for the liturgy to begin.

6.    Time permitting, the Wedding Coordinator may allow pictures to be taken immediately after the conclusion of the liturgy. Out of respect for church staff, photographers must complete their work within 15 minutes of the end of the liturgy. Typically this allows for 4-5 photographs.

7.    Photographers and videographers need to be considerate of each other when positioning themselves for picture taking.  They are not to obstruct each other’s views.

8.    Please remind your photographers and videographers that the Sacrament of Matrimony is a sacred occasion.  Excessive movement detracts from the solemnity of the occasion.